The best smartphones to give as gifts this holiday season, whether buying for a tech-savvy multitasker, phone fashionista, Android purist or someone who would love to swap a camera for a mighty 41-megapixel smartphone.

Christmas 2013: 5 Top smartphones of the year
Apple iPhone 5s. PHOTO: APPLE

The best all-round handset: Apple iPhone 5S
More than just a pretty face, underneath the anodized aluminum exterior is the first 64-bit smartphone processor, meaning that it can handle more complex and graphics heavy applications than any of its Android peers, and it’s very fast. It also has a second processor for tracking motion and activity and a biometric sensor integrated into the homekey, meaning there’s no need for a PIN code to unlock the screen, the user’s fingerprint does the job instead. And it’s all in a package that’s still slim, light and svelte enough to hold and use with one hand.


Christmas 2013: 5 Top smartphones of the yearSamsung Galaxy Note III. PHOTO: SAMSUNG

The best phablet: Samsung Galaxy Note III
If you have to have a handset that’s almost as big as a tablet, the Note range is still the one to beat. Samsung can take pride in the fact that it invented the phablet (or fonblet, as it prefers to call the device), and as competition in the segment has grown, so has the company’s efforts to retain the top spot. As a result, the latest phablet flagship is lighter, faster and more powerful than its predecessor and, in the hand feels of a higher quality than anything else in the Galaxy range of phones, phablets and tablets. For instance, the Note III has a wonderful full HD 5.7-inch display, stylus input and a one-year subscription to Evernote premium and supports a USB 3 connection which enables faster charging and data transfer when connected to a computer. But its list of features is so vast – such as being able to record video in ultra-high definition – that no owner will ever get round to using all of them.

The best Android flagship Phone: HTC One
Unless an Android device has a killer feature or an interesting design, all that potential buyers have to go on are specifications to do with memory space, the processing speed and screen resolution. And the HTC One is the closest anyone in the Android community has come to building a device as well-considered and aesthetically pleasing as an iPhone.

Christmas 2013: 5 Top smartphones of the year

But it’s not all about good looks, it features an intuitive interface and some very neat features, such as Beats By Dr Dre audio boost and curated customizable news and lifestyle content. As a result, the HTC One is more or less universally considered the best Android device money can buy. The only blot on its otherwise immaculate copybook is that its onboard storage cannot be expanded via SD or MicroSD card.

The best camera phone: Nokia Lumia 1020
Windows Phone devices may still be playing catch-up in terms of apps and functionality, but when it comes to photography, not only does it wipe the floor with the competition, but the Lumia 1020 also has camera companies quaking in their boots with its incredible performance.

Christmas 2013: 5 Top smartphones of the year
Nokia Lumia 1020. PHOTO: NOKIA

The lump on the handset’s back is functional (how else can it house a huge 41-megapixel image processor?) and the six-element lens floats on a ring of bearings to eradicate camera shake. But on top of all that raw imaging power, Nokia has laid a host of other apps and software features that will inspire everyone from hardened photojournalists to those that want a really good camera that can make phonecalls. And, now there is an Instagram app for Windows Phones so that 1020 owners can really show off to a wider community.

Christmas 2013: 5 Top smartphones of the year
Motorola Moto G. PHOTO: MOTOROLA

The best value handset: Motorola Moto G
A handset that blends top and medium tier features that is priced to compete with sub-$200 Android phones, the Moto G has a glorious 4.5-inch display, a decent camera, excellent processor and, crucially, runs pure Android so that it is fast and responsive and so that none of the processor’s power is wasted by having to render a customized skin and apps preinstalled by network carriers.

Adding to its appeal are a host of personalization and customization options. It can be specified with different wallpapers, rear casings and covers.